The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Monday, January 12, 2004

Iowa Democratic Caucus: the small print

I've kept away long enough - through boredom, mostly. But, with a week to go, it's time to plunge in media res.

Your starter for ten: in the context of the Iowa Democratic Caucus, what is viability?

[Imagine here a passage of unrestrained effing and blinding. I know you can...]

The answer [1] from the Green Papers page on the Caucus:
At each caucus, each presidential contender who fails to get at least 15 percent support among the participants in the initial balloting after a period of discussion will be considered "non-viable" and all supporters of such "non-viable" presidential contenders will then be required to join in the support of presidential contenders who have remained "viable". To determine the viability of a presidential contender, multiply the number of eligible caucus attendees by the percentages below and round to the nearest whole number. This is the minimum number of delegates needed for the contender to remain viable.

Confused? You should be. The page takes around 1,300 well-chosen words to describe the actual process of selecting Iowa's delegation to the Democratic National Convention. And - despite what you may have read in your rag of choice - the folks chosen next Monday are not they.

No, the folks being chosen next Monday are delegates to the County Conventions of the Iowa Democratic Party. And, after that, there's the Iowa State Convention. As the Green Papers page says (emphasis theirs),
Only as of Saturday 12 June 2004 will ALL of Iowa's 56 Democratic National Convention delegates have been allocated.

Skim the whole thing, and compare it with the simplistic bollocks that the grown-up media have been spoon-feeding us all.

(Google News, for caucus viable 15%, returns the grand total of 26 items: for iowa caucus, 1,820.)

If the media choose not put out such basic details of the main exercise in popular democracy over the four year cycle in the US, what does that say about their attitude to the process, and to the voters (their readers!) who participate in it?

(Or do they think every voter knows about viability and the 15% rule? Bring on the polling, I say!)

[Of course, everyone has a responsibility to inform himself of such matters (I'm kicking myself, primarily, for my own ignorance on the matter). But don't the organisations that make money from disseminating information on the vital matters of the day have their own responsibility not to obfuscate and skate over such fundamental matters?]

  1. I was only alerted to the existence of the question by a CBS News piece (January 12).

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